Oenologist Diane Flamand introduces the Légende Collection. (Courtesy Nick Passmore)

Oenologist Diane Flamand introduces the Légende Collection. (Courtesy Nick Passmore)

Légende Collection provides an affordable taste of Bordeaux

Wines from Domaines Barons de Rothschild group are created for everyday enjoyment

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From the flagship Château Lafite Rothschild Premier Cru Classé Pauillac to the Château Rieussec 1st Cru Classé Sauternes, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) has been producing iconic wines in the Bordeaux region since acquiring the chateau in 1868. From thousands of acres of vines in the region, several million bottles of mostly red blends are produced.

Worldwide, through international partnerships, Domaines Baron de Rothschild is exploring winemaking in the terroir of Mendoza (Argentina), Colchaqua (Chile), Corbieres (France) and the Qiushan Valley (China).

Yet another arm of DBR, the Légende Collection offers consumers a unique opportunity to discover and enjoy the flavor of Bordeaux at reasonable prices. Located within the region, Médoc, Pauillac and St. Emilion are among the world’s most prestigious appellations, each with distinctive soils and nuance of flavor and texture.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac, France is known for its superior wines. (Courtesy photo)

Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac, France is known for its superior wines. (Courtesy photo)

Oenologist Diane Flamand has overseen the collection since 2004. She studied at the University of Bordeaux and has worked much of her career in Médoc and other nearby regions. Local knowledge enables her to meet the difficult challenges in making high quality, affordable Bordeaux wines from known appellations that turn a profit.

The complete Légende Collection ($148) offers a Bordeaux Rouge, a trio of red blends from Médoc, Saint-Émilion and Pauillac and a traditional Bordeaux Blanc white blend. For the full experience, it was noted that the collection was made to taste together and to be very drinkable upon arrival. It is perfect for an informative, socially distanced “Discover Bordeaux” party.

Through Zoom, we joined Diane in Bordeaux as she led a virtual tasting of the five Légende wines.

A dry white wine, the Légende Bordeaux Blanc 2019 ($18) is a blend of sauvignon blanc (85%) and sémillon (15%). The sémillon provides a more rounded texture and added aromas to the blend. Diane, over the years, has progressively added more sémillon and is pleased with the current percentages. As a fan, I always welcome more sémillon.

There is a crisp freshness to the wine with flavors of melon and grapefruit. Flamand suggests serving it cool, as an aperitif or paired with oysters, seafood or goat cheese.

A blend of cabernet sauvignon (60%) and merlot (40%), the Légende Bordeaux Rouge 2017 ($18) is a light-bodied, fruit driven wine made to drink young. It is aged for nine months, 40% in oak, releasing a fruity bouquet with soft tannins and black currant flavors on the palate. Pairing suggestions include pizza and pasta.

Saint-Émilion joins Pomerol, Fronsac and other Bordeaux Right Bank appellations in producing merlot-dominant red blends. Their vineyards are among the oldest and most prolific in the region. Cooler climate and soils in the Right Bank favor merlot over cabernet sauvignon that thrives in warmer regions.

Merlot, in the Légende Saint Émilion 2016 ($37) is blended with a small amount of cabernet franc. Spirited jammy aromas are followed by dark berry and spice flavors with soft tannins that linger through the finish. Pairing suggestions include lamb and red meats after decanting the bottle for at least one hour.

The noted Médoc appellation is home to many great Grand Vin releases and provides perfect terroir for the full expression of cabernet sauvignon. The Légende Médoc 2016 ($25), sourced from vineyards in six different communes within the Medoc peninsula, is a blend of cabernet sauvignon (65%) and merlot (35%). It is full-bodied with elegant structure and powerful pepper spice, red fruits and licorice notes on the palate.

Flamand noted that the quality of the 2016 vintage in the Left Bank is reflected in this Médoc release that pairs well with red meats.

Wines in the Légende Collection are less costly than many offerings from Domaines Barons de Rothschild. (Lyle Norton/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Wines in the Légende Collection are less costly than many offerings from Domaines Barons de Rothschild. (Lyle Norton/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Along with Margaux, Pauillac is one of the most recognized appellations in Bordeaux. Production of the full-bodied Légende Pauillac 2015 ($50), a blend of cabernet sauvignon (60%) and merlot (40%), most closely resembles that of the iconic Lafite Rothschild wines. Eighty percent of the fruit comes from Lafite vineyards and it is aged for nine months in Lafite cooperage.

Earthy aromas of dark fruit, tobacco and forest floor precedes muscular structure, vibrant flavors and spice notes throughout. While balanced and powerful, the flavors are not overly concentrated and follow Flamand’s preference not to exceed 13.5% alcohol. This wine can age well, but is meant to drink young.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has created some problems with exports to the United States, the Légende wines are readily available and succeed in providing a convenient, affordable taste of Bordeaux.

Guest columnist Lyle W. Norton is a wine enthusiast and blogger in Santa Rosa who has written a wine column for 20 years. Visit his blog at www.lifebylyle.com or email sfewine@gmail.com.

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